Salvation Army receives golden donation

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Maj. Tammy Ray said she enjoys finding unusual things in the Salvation Army kettles. Wednesday, someone dropped $2,400 worth of gold coins into their kettle at Wal-Mart.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis Salvation Army got a shiny and valuable surprise in one of their kettles Wednesday.

Two Lady Liberty American Eagle gold coins were dropped into the kettle in front of Wal-Mart.

After some research, Maj. Tammy Ray found out the one-ounce $50 gold pieces are worth about $1,200 each on the market.

Michael Beaulieu, owner of Beaulieu Brothers Pawn City, said the coins are selling for between $1,200 and $1,300.

“It was a fun surprise when we opened up the kettle,” Ray said.

Ray said gold coins have popped up in kettles all over the country, mostly on the east coast.

“It’s neat that we got some here in Clovis,” she said.

Ray said the ringer, Charles Lavere, didn’t notice the coins. He said he saw someone dump a small bag’s contents into the kettle.

“I thought they were fake when we first found them,” the 17-year-old ringer said. “Then Tammy texted me and told me they were real. I said wow. I couldn’t believe they donated that much.”

Ray said the $2,400 donation will significantly help the organization’s trailing kettle drive.

Last week, the drive was down $6,000 and was low on volunteers. Ray said businesses have stepped up to man kettles on certain days, which is also helping.

“I’m excited. This is fun. I love getting unusual things in the kettle. It makes a long day really interesting,” Ray said.

Ray said the Clovis branch is in contact with headquarters for advice but said they will end up selling the coins.

“Whoever it was, thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said.